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R Street Institute's Kevin Kosar interviewed about alcohol by the Here's How I Think This Works podcast

R Street's Kevin Kosar was recently interviewed about illogical liquor laws and his new book Moonshine: A Global History

On Episode 3 of Here’s How I Think This Works, Eric, Adam, and Cameron discuss alcohol, its origins, its effects, and its many delicious forms. We’ll debate which variety came first, theorize how it might have been discovered, and question how anyone ever drank enough of the original rotgut to realize it could get you drunk. After the break, expert Kevin Kosar will share some wisdom from his new book “Moonshine: A Global History,” give us some guidance on developing your palate, and get us all worked up about illogical liquor laws.

Listen to the podcast at http://www.hhittw.com/?p=683 and https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/heres-how-i-think-this-works/id1212039096.

Dieterle talks distilling restrictions on ‘Free to Brew’ podcast

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle was interviewed on the Free to Brew podcast about Virginia's onerous distillery laws:

R Street Governance Project Fellow Jarrett Dieterle joined the Free to Brew podcast to discuss regulatory issues around alcohol distillers, particularly in Virginia, which has some of the most onerous restrictions in the country. The full audio is embedded below....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/2017/03/06/dieterle-talks-va-distilling-restrictions-on-free-to-brew-podcast/

So many drinks laws: An interview with food policy expert Baylen Linnekin

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle interviews food policy expert Baylen Linnekin about burdensome alcohol laws:

In his recent book, Biting the Hands That Feed Us (Island Press, 2016), food-policy scholar Baylen Linnekin exposes many of America’s nightmare food laws. From the so-called “cheese board rule” that contemplated forbidding cheesemakers from aging their cheese on wooden boards, to laws that shut down producers of salumi who refused to use nitrates in their meat-aging process, these rules have crushing effects on food producers, while failing to provide any significant health benefits.

I recently talked with Linnekin about whether alcohol producers faced the same level of government-imposed regulations that food producers do. According to him, the answer is a resounding yes....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/so-many-drinks-laws-an-interview-with-food-policy-expert-baylen-linnekin/

Fighting for booze equality on ‘Alcohol Alley’

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle profiles a Virginia distillery and the regulatory challenges they face in their home state:

On paper, Silverback Distillery in rural Afton, Virginia, should be considered an All-American success story. The husband-and-wife team of Denver and Christine Riggleman opened Silverback in 2014. Denver previously served in the U.S. military and eventually became a successful businessman, while Christine is one of the few female master distillers in an industry largely dominated by men.

Unfortunately, operating their business has forced the Rigglemans to come face-to-face with a government-imposed regulatory nightmare. While Silverback’s various spirits have received 11 international awards to date, it is treated as a second-class citizen in its home state....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/fighting-for-booze-equality-on-alcohol-alley/

Beer can battles in Texas

R Street's Josiah Neeley on Texas beer container laws:

What’s the difference between a beer can and a mayonnaise jar? It sounds like the opening to a bad joke, but it’s also the basis for a legal and regulatory battle being waged between the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and an Austin-area small business.

Cuvee Coffee is a coffee bar located in a hip area of east Austin. Founded by Michael McKim, Cuvee’s sells beer on tap. Customers who want their beer to-go can have them placed in a growler (a large resealable bottle) or using a crowler (a machine that seals the beer in an aluminum can with a standard pop top). It takes several minutes to produce a can of beer using a crowler and, because the device doesn’t eliminate oxygen from the can, the beer won’t stay fresh for as long as canned beer bought in stores. As such, crowlers are useless as a way to mass-produce canned beer.

Texas law requires businesses that wish to “bottle and can beer and pack it into containers for resale” to hold a manufacturer’s license from TABC. Texas also prohibits the same entity from holding licenses for both the manufacture and retail sale of alcohol. Dating from the years after Prohibition, this mandatory separation is argued to be needed to combat organized crime. In practice the rules often serve to limit competition....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/beer-can-battles-in-texas/

The insidious campaign of ‘soft’ prohibitionists

R Street's Kevin Kosar writes about "soft" prohibitionism on the anniversary of the 21st Amendment:

This week’s Repeal Day (Dec. 5) marked 83 years since the dreadful social experiment of Prohibition finally was killed.

We think we live in strange times today, but what a weird era that was. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and it was an odd coalition that lobbied for Prohibition — some women, Christian fundamentalists, Nativists, racists, progressives, capitalists, socialists and health nuts. With few exceptions, these reformers all believed drinking was bad. Respectively, these anti-alcohol crusaders declared that alcohol made men irresponsible; humankind impious; immigrants uppity; Blacks violent; humanity retrograde; workers lazy; proletariat imprisoned in false consciousness; and human bodies, sick.

Thus far, it does not appear the old heavy-handed Prohibition will rise from the grave in America. So we can lift our glasses in toast to that.

But all the news is not good news, friends of the cup. Let me mention a few dour matters....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/2016/12/09/the-insidious-campaign-of-soft-prohibitionists/

Finding a 21st century system for booze

R Street's Kevin Kosar with a dispatch from a liquor conference:

Traverse City, Michigan (population 15,000), is a gorgeous bay town near the northern end of Lake Michigan. The town, which oozes charm, has very good restaurants and genial denizens. In the autumn, both salmon and steelhead run through the Boardman River, which snakes through town.

But Traverse City also was a slightly amusing choice for the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators meetings that I attended there last week. The Great Lakes have a long history of rum-running, as Edward Butts details in his diverting 2004 book “Outlaws of the Lakes: Bootlegging and Smuggling from Colonial Times to Prohibition.” Three centuries ago, Antonione Alumet de la Mothe Cadillac, best-known for founding Detroit, peddled massive quantities of illicit brandy from his stronghold in Mackinac, 100 miles north of Traverse City.

The NCSLA meets a few times each year. Among other things, the meetings are an opportunity for both drinks regulators and the regulated drinks makers to meet and talk policy. Every state has its own ways of managing drinks, some of which work better than others. So the meetings also are an opportunity for the booze-acrats to share information and advice about how to improve their regulations and better do their jobs....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/2016/11/01/finding-a-21st-century-system-for-booze/

Think Prohibition Is Over? Nope. It’s Still Making Booze Pricy And Hard To Get

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle on the South's antiquated liquor laws:

Even though it’s one of the country’s freest and most pro-business regions, the South is well-known for having some of the worst alcohol laws in America. Georgia recently made headlines for implementing a few modest changes to their backwards alcohol laws, but a closer look at these changes shows just how watered-down Southern reform efforts have been....

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2016/10/19/think-prohibition-nope-still-making-booze-pricy-hard-get/

Alabama’s ABC is little more than a Prohibition hangover

R Street's Cameron Smith on Alabama's ABC:

With all the focus on Alabama’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) cracking down on sidewalk alcohol sales, it might have been easy to miss its stern warning about following alcohol regulations after what happened in Connecticut.

A “national liquor store chain, Total Wine and More, decided to ignore Connecticut’s minimum price law.” But the scofflaws in Connecticut didn’t stop there. They advertised the lower prices. To the dismay of state regulators, other stores announced similar discounts. Apparent pandemonium ensued until Connecticut reached a settlement where “Total Wine agreed to pay the state $37,500 and cease advertising and selling below the state minimum.”

Government imposed price floors should infuriate folks in a red state like Alabama. They’re yet another example of Alabama’s outdated alcohol regulatory scheme begging for reform. While Alabamians must follow current alcohol regulations and laws, it’s clearly time to change them....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/alabamas-abc-is-little-more-than-a-prohibition-hangover/

Congress may lower taxes on drinks

R Street's Kevin Kosar on federal drinks taxes:

The Beer Institute recently reported some happy news: 51 U.S. senators support a bill to lower federal drink taxes. The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1562) would:

  • Lower the federal excise tax to $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels for domestic brewers who make fewer than 2 million barrels per year;
  • Reduce the federal excise tax to $16 per barrel on the first 6 million barrels for all other brewers and all beer importers;
  • Maintain the current $18-per-barrel rate for brewers who produce more than 6 million barrels;
  • Lower the tax on liquor for the first 100,000 gallons produced from $13.50 to $2.70 per gallon; and
  • Exempt home distillers from federal taxes.

The bill also would enact several other reforms, including reducing some tax-related reporting requirements and defining “cider” so that fizzier versions are not subject to pricey sparkling-wine taxes (cider is taxed at 22.6 cents per gallon and bubbly is taxed at $3.40 per gallon).

Whether the legislation will be passed and sent to President Barack Obama’s desk is anything but clear....

Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/congress-may-lower-taxes-on-drinks/